The Government-established entity tasked with awarding New
Zealand hospital food contracts to a sole provider is
refusing to say why progress appears to be lacking.
Health Benefits Ltd communications and engagement manager
Mark Reynolds said when contacted yesterday the organisation
had ''nothing further to say at this point''.
Previously, Mr Reynolds has been willing to give updates to
media on the plan.
''That's all I've got to say, OK,'' he said four times, in
response to queries from the Otago Daily Times, before
After the phone call, Mr Reynolds re-sent the ODT a
copy of an email he had sent in February, which said HBL
worked hard to get the detail of projects right, rather than
meeting ''arbitrary'' time frames.
However, Mr Reynolds previously said a business case would be
presented to health boards early this year, which did not
Health Minister Tony Ryall said in a statement there were
''no delays'' to the project.
''The top priority for HBL is to improve the quality of food
across the country. I refer you to HBL for further
Last week, representatives of Southern hospital kitchen
workers expressed exasperation to the Southern DHB at the
delay in learning their fate.
Health board managers said they would make a greater effort
to keep staff informed.
Service and Food Workers Union Southland organiser Anna
Huffstutler said yesterday when contacted workers were
stressed and ''left in the dark''.
''There was such a huge hiss and a roar when it first hit the
media and they're still waiting. And I think that's really
hard for them.
''The concern is when [HBL] do present the business case,
what sort of timeline will we get to consult before they say,
`This is what we're doing', and start implementation.''
HBL's plans to centralise most hospital kitchen food
production to ''mega-hubs'' in Auckland and Christchurch
under a sole external provider prompted public concern when
revealed in April last year.